Catalonia Fears Civil Unrest Ahead Of Independence Vote

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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The Spanish government’s attempts to stop the region of Catalonia from holding an independence referendum Sunday could result in public disorder, Catalan police warned Wednesday.

Catalonia refuses to give in to the government’s pressure to cancel the vote, which the constitutional court deemed illegal. Spain has deployed thousands of police officers and polling stations have been sealed off to prevent people from casting their ballots.

Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police force, warned Wednesday that the measures “could lead to undesirable consequences.”

“These consequences refer to public security and to the more than foreseeable risk of a disruption of public order that this may generate,” the police force said in a tweet.

Catalan leaders have urged the EU to intervene to ensure the situation doesn’t escalate further.

“What they’re doing by blocking domain name servers is doing what Turkey does and what China does and what North Korea does,” a spokesman for the Catalan government told The Guardian. “No western democracy does that. The internet is the kingdom of freedom.”

Catalonia has pushed for a legitimate referendum for years. An 80 percent majority backed independence in a symbolic referendum in 2014, which the federal government ruled unconstitutional. Three former officials, including the former Catalan President Artur Mas, were barred from holding public office as a result.

Spain has threatened to suspend hundreds of mayors for backing Sunday’s referendum. Polls suggest a majority of people want to remain part of Spain while also supporting the vote to settle the issue.

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